Social statistics are often irrelevant and can be dangerously misleading when addressing complex social issues, as the author points out in the opinion-page article "How Bad Can Numbers Be? Remember the 'Energy Crisis,' " June 2. Unfortunately, most of his column is an example of reducing a complex social issue - the production and consumption of energy - to statistics and dollar figures.
The author fails to consider the need to find ways to produce electricity that are relatively safe and minimize damage to the environment.
The cost of electricity could be reduced, the author contends, by changing the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act of 1978 (PURPA). Using factually inaccurate information, he discredits one of the federal government's most effective efforts to conserve energy. PURPA does not, as the author claims, provide "for payments at way over current market prices to independent producers of electrical power." Instead, PURPA provides that utility rates be proposed by utilities in conjunction with suppliers and approved by state utility commissions.
When the author says that the demand for oil in 1985 was significantly less than projected by a 1973 estimate, he fails to credit efforts at energy conservation for a significant portion of the difference between estimate and reality.
M. Larry Kaseman
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